POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/15
Despite major Democratic losses in the midterm elections, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Americans trust President Obama marginally more than congressional Republicans to deal with the country’s main problems in the coming years, 43% to 38%.
Jeffrey Toobin: “Judges, to a great extent, can do what they want. They can manipulate precedents to reach the conclusions they want to reach. In high-profile cases, the decisions are more about politics than law… The fate of health-care reform will rest not with the skill of the lawyers who will argue it — or in the words of the cases on which they will rely — but on the preferences of the nine Justices who will decide the case.”
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) “just took a swipe that seems to be aimed squarely at presumed 2012 candidate Mitt Romney, who today attacked the deal Senate Republicans struck with President Obama to extend the Bush tax cuts,” ABC Newsreports.
Said Thune: “It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize this proposal. And it’s perhaps even politically expedient to stand on the sidelines and criticize this proposal. But let me make one thing very clear Mr. President, advocating against this tax proposal is to advocate for a tax increase.”
Erin McPike tweets that after he left the Senate floor, Thune was jokingly asked to whom he was referring in his speech favoring tax deal and said, “Gosh, that could be anybody.”
Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is spending much of this weekdefending challenges to his residency as he runs for Chicago mayor.
Reuters notes that outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley “and other defenders of the famously combative political operative have said the hearing is a sham and Emanuel was serving his country in Washington, but others say the objection to Emanuel’s candidacy in the February 22 election is legitimate.”
Interestingly, the Chicago Sun Times notes it’s a “storied tradition” in Chicago politics to use technicalities to try and force opponents off the ballot. In 2004, Emanuel himself “used a ballot challenge to try to oust his primary opponent for Congress . President Obama won his first election the same way, using ballot challenges to knock all his opponents for state Senate off the ballot and win by default.”
GOP political operative Sig Rogich, who was involved in the campaigns of Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents, told the Nevada News Bureau that Sarah Palin is not a viable candidate for president in 2012.
Big Think asks Jimmy Carter about his biggest failure as president.
“I guess my biggest failure was not getting re-elected. And I learned two things; one is that you ought not to ever let American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them. I did the best I could, but I failed.”
“And I think another lesson I learned is, I should have paid more attention to the organization of the Democratic Party. I was not only the leader of our nation, but I was also the leader of the Democratic Party. And I think I failed in that respect to keep the party united. It was divided in my reelection campaign between me and the people who were loyal to Ted Kennedy and then that cost me a lot of votes. So those were the two things that I believe could have been done better.”
“Disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff has finished his stint working at a kosher pizzeria in Baltimore and is now on probation,” the AP reports.
While she’s generally avoided media outlets other than Fox News, Sarah Palin agreed to an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America to air Friday.
Christian Heinze: “Recently, Palin’s been stepping a little out of her Mark Levin/Sean Hannity box, and the Roberts interview is another sign she’s thinking about trying to reach indies that have, so far, rejected her. Winning their favor right now matters, because even though indies don’t (usually) vote in GOP primaries, Palin has to start selling Republicans on her electability.”
The upcoming U.S. Supreme Court battle over the individual mandate in the new health care law — which was modeled on a Massachusetts law backed by Mitt Romney — could derail the likely 2012 presidential candidate’s campaign if it stays in the headlines, the Boston Herald reports.
Said Larry Sabato: “The longer this goes on and the more it’s in the headlines, the worse for Romney. When will it get to the Supreme Court? At least a year. That puts it right in the middle of the presidential political season — which would be a nightmare for Romney.”
First Read: “Yesterday, we entered Bizarro Congress World. After nearly two years of legislation dying in the Senate — or being modified to get 60 votes — the chamber easily cleared the filibuster on the tax-cut deal by an 83-15 vote; the final Senate vote will take place as early as today. Meanwhile, the House — which has passed legislation in the past two years as if it were an assembly line — has had a more difficult time embracing the deal. The reason why senators have found the tax deal (and also the deficit commission’s proposal) easier to swallow, and why House members haven’t, hits at the essence of the two chambers. The Senate, whose members represent entire states and which needs 60 votes to pass almost anything, is all about compromise and deal making; the House, whose members represent mostly safe congressional districts, is much more polarized.”
The AP reports that yet another Democratic state legislator in Georgia has switched his allegiance to the Republican Party, bringing the total to eight who have changed parties since the November election.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s decision to run for another term caught nearly everyone by surprise.
First Read: “We now know two things about the election for RNC chair, which takes place next month: 1) it will be MUCH more interesting to watch, and 2) it’s going to be all about Steele and his stewardship of the committee. At an RNC candidate forum a couple of weeks ago, Steele’s tenure was hardly mentioned. Now? It’s going to be the chief issue between now and next month’s election.”
Mike Allen: “Top donors say that if he wins, they will publicly formalize their de facto boycott of the RNC under Steele. So there’s going to be pressure for the field to consolidate behind a few challengers. Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is the favorite, and could win outright if Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour publicly embraces him. Otherwise, it’ll probably turn into a second-ballot race between Steele and one of the other challengers: Ann Wagner of Missouri, former RNC co-chair; Gentry Collins, who was RNC political director until last month; Maria Cino; and Saul Anuzis, former Michigan Republican chairman.”
Politico‘s beautiful obituary of Richard Holbrooke really captures the nature of one of the best-known diplomats of our time.
“Holbrooke had a keenly observant mind, attuned to minute details of personality and position in Washington and in circles of influence all over the world. The obsession with contemporary power, hardly unusual in any capital, was melded with something more uncommon: a deep and nuanced understanding of history.”
“A subtle mind was harnessed to something not so subtle — a bucking stallion of ego, a force quite capable of trampling over anything that stood between Holbrooke and his ambitions. He did not simply want to understand history, he wanted to gallop across its stage.”
“I don’t think there’s a sense that I’ve been successful.”
— President Obama, in an interview with Colorado 9NEWS, when asked if he’s been effective at changing Washington, D.C.
A new Clarus Research poll in Virginia shows Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) leading former Sen. George Allen (R) by just one point in a possible re-match of their 2006 race, 41% to 40%.
Webb loses a hypothetical trial heat with Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) by three points, 39% to 42%, but beats Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) by 11 points, 44% to 33%.
Said pollster Ron Faucheux: “Senator Webb could face a tough race in 2012. The fact that he’s not polling above 44 percent in any of the trial heats is a danger sign. Despite his defeat by Webb four years ago, George Allen’s potential comeback strength is impressive.”
Failed Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon (R) wants to meet with NRSC Chair John Cornyn (R-TX), Roll Call reports.
Said Cornyn: “I don’t know what her message is going to be, but I sort of suspect she isn’t finished.”
“Her ability to self-fund in 2010 allowed Republicans to compete in a Democratic-leaning state without the need for financial assistance from the NRSC. Republicans would love to do the same thing in 2012 with the seat currently occupied by Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats.”
As South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) prepares to leave office next month, he hinted to WPDE-TV about a possible political comeback.
Said Sanford: “Time will tell. That’s sort of a catch-22 answer, because anything I say will be viewed… In other words, that’s not my plan. It’s not where I think I’m going in life, but what I learned in my life is ‘never say never.'”
Christian Heinze notes that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “is up for reelection in 2012, but it’s unlikely Sanford would primary him. Graham is the godfather of Sanford’s kids.”
From the Washington Post obituary of Richard Holbrooke: “As Mr. Holbrooke was sedated for surgery, family members said, his final words were to his Pakistani surgeon: ‘You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.'”
Mitt Romney comes out hard against the bipartisan tax deal in a USA Today op-ed noting that of death and taxes “only death retains the status of certainty: The future for taxes has been left up in the air. And uncertainty is not a friend of investment, growth and job creation.”
Despite Democratic grumbling, he says President Obama “has reason to celebrate. The deal delivers short-term economic stimulus, and it does so at the very time he wants it most, before the 2012 elections. But the long term health of our great engine of prosperity will remain very much in doubt. To the twin inevitabilities of death and taxes, we may now have to add persistent high unemployment.”
Daily Caller: “Romney’s move has the potential to spur broader opposition to the deal among Republican lawmakers than has previously been seen, and is clearly intended by the former Massachusetts governor as a play for support from Tea Party and grassroots conservatives.”